Donaldson starts her stint as Children’s Laureate with a romping riff on Alfred Noyes’ classic poem The Highwayman. A masked ratty rapscallion helps himself to the bounty of every passing animal. The bounder won’t be beaten by force; cunning is required. Enter a canny duck with enticing talk of a cave crammed with goodies… Donaldson’s books are always fun, but this excels. It’s a clear, strong yarn, with thrilling naughtiness and a fitting comeuppance. The rhyme scheme, a lift from Noyes, makes it particularly memorable. And only Axel Scheffler could summon the 18th-century midnight feast populated by squirrels, rabbits, frogs and ducks.